Karen Darke – turning challenge into gold

As parents we are always looking for role models for Adam; people who have walked challenging journeys and are living a life of fulfilment. We want to ensure that Adam has the wisdom, tools and inspiration to live his very best life in the future. You can imagine our delight when we were recently connected with para athlete and adventurer Karen Darke (MBE).

Karen was always an adventurer. A keen runner, climber and orienteerer, she became paralysed from the chest down following a cliff fall at the age of 21. Since then, she has dedicated herself to embarking on incredible journeys, inner and outer, to lead the most amazing life. 

Karen has spent the last decade as a full time athlete – she is a British Paralympic cyclist and para triathlete. She won silver in hand cycling at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, then went on to best this, winning gold in Rio 2016.  She is also a two-time world champion at the ITU para-triathlon world championships.

Karen Darke Team GB

Karen Darke, Team GB. Photo Credit: Paralympics GB

Karen has had many amazing adventures over the years. She has hand-cycled in many parts of the world such as Central Asia and the Himalayas, skied across the Greenland icecap, and sea kayaked in Alaska! When we spoke to Karen, she gave Adam wonderful advice on living an adventurous life. She was so generous with her knowledge on the types of equipment to source for all sorts of terrains. We just loved Karen’s attitude to living healthy in body and mind. The strong message Adam heard from Karen is to never accept second best in your precious life and there are no limits to what you can achieve. Karen’s commitment to her work, her resilience as a person and her adventurous spirit are so motivating to our family. We are grateful Adam can count her as a friend.



Adam King, brother Danny, Dad David, pictured with Karen Darke (MBE) and Juelie McLoughlin

Adam King, brother Danny, Dad David, pictured with Karen Darke (MBE) and Juelie McLoughlin

Karen was scheduled to be part of the TEAM UMIAQ 2021 Greenland Expedition which set sail in August. This crew, comprised of six, set sail non-assisted from Iceland through the world’s most remote and extreme weather systems to attend the Extreme E rally in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Using advanced technologies, Team UMIAQ will be collecting new data on climate change and micro plastics in areas that have never before been accessed by boat - accessible only now due to the melting of sea ice (you can track the journey of the crew here). Sadly, Karen became unwell whilst travelling to depart on the trip and could not join the crew. When we spoke with Karen recently, we couldn’t get over how upbeat and positive she was about this situation. This further reminded us of her resilience and determination.

Karen is currently undertaking the Quest 79 challenge. She has challenged herself to cycle seven continents, in 9 trips, and hopes to raise £79k for spinal injury charities. 79 is also the atomic number for gold, representing the ability within ourselves to be the best we can be. Her next big expedition as part of this challenge is in 2022- she will ski from the Antarctic adventure base at Union Glacier to a ‘new pole’, at 79 degrees latitude and longitude. Amazing! You can find out more about this challenge, and everything that Karen does, at her website: 


 “Possibility is a state of mind. When we change our mind we have the ability to change our reality. Our actions ripple out and inspire those around us. Positive action catches like a virus, and before you know it, your light twinkles and everyone around you lights up.” Karen Darke MBE