Documentary review: Impossible

Documentary title Impossible
Type Feature-length film
Featuring Karen Darke
Date online March 2015
Social @kdarke

By her own admission Karen Darke has a split sporting personality. Describing herself as part adventurer, part elite athlete, she can now add one part endurance athlete to the mix too after taking on an ironman event last summer.

That’s a 2.4-mile (3.86km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25km) cycle ride with the cherry on the top, a marathon to finish, that’s 26.2-miles (42.2km).

This is Karen climbing El Capitan, one of the hardest climbs in the world...

This is Karen climbing El Capitan, one of the hardest climbs in the world…

Oh, and Karen is paralysed from the chest down.

A documentary of the attempt premiered at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival on Friday March 20 2015.

The name of the film? ‘Impossible.’ Quite.

Obviously I’m tip-toeing around whether Karen made it or not, but that’s not really the point.

The crowdfunded film is about testing your own limits on what you believe is possible, even if these are just the small challenges of every day life.

Story teller extraordinaire
I chatted with the London 2012 Paralympic silver medalist after her – I’m sorry, I try not to overuse the word ‘inspiring’, but it’s hard in this case – INSPIRING talk at the annual Buxton Adventure Festival.

If you ever get the chance to hear Karen speak, go. Articulate, funny, self-deprecating and full of stories you wouldn’t believe.

Here’s what she told me about the lead up to the ironman, and, amazingly, the person who actually inspired her during the event.

“I can honestly say that I was in no good mental state to start the ironman. I’d just flown in directly from the para-cycling road World Championships and every thought in every cell of my body wasn’t up for it. I was really aware I was dreading it.

“I’d never done one. I’d done a half ironman, which was quite tough and I’d done it with a friend on a tandem bike, so the thought of putting my body and my shoulders through that amount of work… I was quite scared about it.

“It just seemed completely crazy and impossible but the guy who had inspired me to do it, Mr Impossible 365, was Jose Manuel Lopez Martinez who was trying to run as many ironman challenges as he could in a year, so it was his 90th!”

Karen takes to the road for the final push... a full marathon

Karen takes to the road for the final push… a full marathon

Mr Impossible
“I’d met up with him at a radio station the day before in Mallorca and you just have to give yourself a talking to when you’ve met him.

“He’d done something like 86 up until the week before and he wanted this to be his 90th so he had something like four days to squeeze in three ironmen just before I arrived on the Saturday – and that was in amongst working full-time.

“So you kind of have to say to yourself, ‘Okay, stop complaining, woman-up and do it’.

Dawn rising
So I remember cycling to the shore that morning at half six and there was nobody there and it was pitch black.

“My friend who’s based there said she’d be there at half past six and we’d get ready but they didn’t appear until one minute to seven and we were supposed to start at 7am.

“It was still quite dark at that point and I remember just stripping off and sitting on the jetty at the edge of the sea just filled with dread and thinking, ‘Oh god, what am I doing? This is stupid’.”

Stupid maybe but impossible? Watch the documentary to find out.

NOTE: Not only is the film named ‘Impossible’ but sadly that’s also how it feels trying to find where you can now watch the film. Hopefully it’ll be online somewhere by the time you read this. It’s worth searching out. Please let us know on Facebook if you find out where to get it! Thanks.

Like this (well, the trailer at least?) Then try:

Fran (4mins, free) – Climbing provides solace for Fran Brown after a life-changing accident.

Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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