Those of you who visit here occasionally (I like to pretend that some of you are repeat visitors) will know that I’m often digging around for people who are inspirational. Top of my personal list would probably be my Dad (if you missed it earlier this week his tumour shrank slightly since his last scan so that was great news), at the moment a close second are Ollie and Megan, my cousin’s kids. Their Dad was killed in Afghanistan last month and they’ve decided to try and keep a positive focus for his birthday next month by doing a sponsored silence to raise money for 1 Rifles Swift and Bold appeal – you can show them your support and donate a couple quid if you like over here.
In both those instances I’m impressed by their fortitude, by their attitude to just keep keeping on. Cancer and grief are hellish things to have to deal with, never mind if you’re only a teenager (or not yet a teenager in Megs’ case). But what has this got to do with Karen Darke? Well she is another source of inspiration, in fact arguably one of the most inspirational athletes in the UK at the moment. I first heard about Karen a few years ago, 2008 to be precise, I was squatting up on the speakers ahead of the Do Lectures that I was luckily enough to be attending. One of them was Andy Kirkpatrick and his biog included reference to a trip to El Capitan that he’d made with Karen Darke. You can learn more about Andy here. When I returned home from the Do Lectures one of the first things I did was order Karen’s book If you fall and since then I’ve been following her life from a distance.
Since then, Karen and Andy have continued on their adventures. In 2009 Karen became World Para-Triathlon Champion, Sea-Kayaked in Patagonia, won a Bronze Medal in World Cup Paracycling. The following year she joined Team GB Paracycling Team and she is now British Para-Triathlon Champion and in training for next years Paralympics. The 4 minute film that follows explains better than I can – it’s well worth your time, go watch now