Sometimes, it’s sheer grit that gets you over the finish line. 

When Carly Kent (42), a customer manager for key accounts at Coca-Cola in South Africa, was recently chosen for the KPMG Elite Running Club, she knew her years of training and commitment had finally paid off. 

“Some people are blessed with athletic genes, but for me it’s more my mindset that has helped me to finish some of the toughest endurance events,” she says.  “You achieve what your mind sets out to do on the day.”

Being chosen for the KPMG Elite Running Club puts her amongst some of South Africa’s top athletes.  The club sponsors elite female runners including Comrades and Two Oceans Marathon winner Caroline Wostmann; Olympic marathon qualifier Christine Kalmer; and Olympic qualifier and SA cross country champion, Nolene Conrad.


Carly first became interested in running fourteen years ago after she got back from a stint in London 20 kilograms heavier than her normal weight.  A friend suggested they start running together to increase their fitness. 

“On that first run, we were literally running from lamp post to lamp post,” she remembers.

Fast forward to 2018, when Carly completed her sixth Comrades Marathon, a gruelling 90km race in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal province. 

Much to her frustration, Carly narrowly missed a silver medal by just one minute, coming in at 7hrs 31 minutes.  She collapsed after crossing the finish line and had to be carried off on a stretcher.


“Unfortunately, not every cloud has a silver lining and as an athlete you need to be able to deal with your disappointment and get back out there,” adds Carly.  “It still niggles me that I missed the silver and I rehash the day in my head thinking about what I could have done differently.  But ultimately, I was never pegged to be a sub-7.30 runner, so for me, it’s actually a huge achievement to have got so close.”

Carly jokes that she is highly competitive with her husband Ian, with whom she completed the eight day, 580km 2017 Cape Epic Cycle Challenge.  This year, Carly earned her Two Ocean’s blue number – marking her completion of ten of the Cape Town-based 56km ultra-marathons.  She also completed a half Iron Man. 

“We’re also trying to instil a love for running in our two daughters, Sarah (aged 9) and Hannah (aged 11) and try to do a MyRun in one of Johannesburg’s parks with them on the weekends.”


At work, Carly makes use of the office gym and tries to take the stairs as much as possible, while fitting in her busy work schedule.  She is the McDonald’s Customer Manager and Petroleum Forecourts Channel Manager.

Carly swears by alternating Powerade and Coca-Cola for fuel and hydration during her competitive events and loves the fact that Powerade’s tagline is #AlwaysForward.

“There’s really nothing more rewarding than enjoying a Coke at the end of a marathon,” she says.  “But it was also the support from all my work colleagues at the Coca-Cola and Powerade water stops along the route that really inspired me to run my best Comrades this year.”