Lina & Sanna El Kott Helander

Trailrunning successes in a double pack

Image credit: Alexis Berg

Most of the time you meet the two Swedes in a double pack and with a smile on their lips: The El Kott twins have been regulars in the trail running scene at least since their double win of the Transalpine Run. Here are the most important facts about the two blond Merrell athletes, who eat a completely vegan diet.

El Kott Breakthrough at the Transalpine Run

Loose, light on their feet and smiling, that's how Lina and Sanna El Kott Helander's running style can be described. With a victory in the Transalpine Run, arguably the world's toughest trail running team event, which leads across the Alps in stages, the sisters attracted attention in a big way in 2017. With another victory the following year, they proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with, as well as wins at the Pitz Alpine Glacier Trail (2020 and 2021), the Monte Rosa Sky Marathon (2021) or the SkySnow World Championship Vertical, when Lina secured the title as world champion.

Sharing the biggest success in their career to date at the Transalpine Run with their sister as a team was of course special for both of them. And the two still enjoy competing in races where they can compete as a team of two. In July 2022, for example, the El Kotts finished second in the women's classification of the Pierra Menta Eté, which takes place in three stages.

The two also spend most of their time on the road together: During the racing season, they tour Europe together, and during the competition break, the two live together in Åre, which is known as a ski resort. There they also organize the Åre Trail Tour, where you can compete against old and new friends in trail running for three days.

Eating vegan as endurance athletes

Both Lina and Sanna have been vegetarians for more than 15 years for ethical reasons. For a few years now, both have been eating a vegan diet, because Lina wanted to give it a try and usually cooks for both of them. Since the two of them live together and also usually travel together at competitions, Sanna had to follow suit.

In the meantime, however, both are fully convinced and are not aware of any deficiencies in their diet. "We know a lot of athletes* who eat a plant-based diet, so there's no need to worry about the diet having a negative impact on performance or recovery, " Sanna tells us. "We want to inspire people and show them that we have a lot of energy and can train a lot even though we don't consume animal products. I don't know where people get the idea that you need meat for energy or that you don't feel full when you eat a vegan diet. As a vegan, you have to eat more, but we love to eat, so that's fine with us," Lina adds to her sister.

You'll notice that when you follow the sisters on Instagram or visit their website. There you will find colorful, vegan recipe ideasand dishes. The two have already published their own cookbook in Swedish, in which their best sweet and savory recipes for athletes are collected.

For those who are worried about not getting enough protein, the El Kotts suggest mixing pureed beans into smoothies or adding nut purée to dishes.

Sisterly love or competition?

What about sisterly love when each wants to be better than the other? Giving way to the other is out of the question for both of them in individual competitions. And their good performance can perhaps also be attributed to the fact that neither wants to be particularly far behind the other, and has been since birth.

For both of them, however, it is also a special privilege to compete with their sister and also to share the preparation, training and regeneration phases and conversations, in which everything is reviewed, with such a close confidante as their own sister. So the two of them also push each other in competitions in which they compete individually and try to defend the victory from other competitors together, even if usually only one of the twins can be the better one.

What the El Kott Twins have planned for the future

Lina, who is eight minutes older than Sanna, especially likes the steep climbs and technical uphills. Downhill, Sanna is stronger and usually catches up with her sister.

Currently, the two sisters mainly participate in competitions of the Skyrunner World Series. In the future, Sanna would like to try longer distances up to 100 km, because there is more to experience on the course. Lina would like to show her strength more often in verticals, i.e. shorter distances with extreme inclines.

In any case, they want to stay true to trail running by participating in many more competitions and by organizing their own events like the Åre Trails. Because when asked what trail running means to them, Sanna answers, "Trail running is freedom and therefore the greatest gift you can have." And for Lina, it's simply, "Happiness."

The El Kott twins in a nutshell:

Sport type:Trail Running
Birthday:February 28, 1994
Height:155 cm
Born in:Östersund, Sweden
Place of residence:Äre, Sweden
Instagram:29 100 followers approx.
Achievements:Transalpine Run winner 2017 & 2018, Monte Rosa Sky Marathon 2021, Pitz Alpine Glacier Trail (2020 & 2021), World Champion SkySnow Vertical 2022 (Lina).

With these shoes run the El Kott twins:


Lightness is the key to running fast. The El Kotts know this, as do the developers at Merrell. Freshly awarded an ISPO Award, the new Skyfire II is one of the lightest trail running shoes with integrated carbon plate and 5 mm lugs on the market. A technical shoe that provides support and reduces fatigue thanks to its lightness.

RRP: 200 euros


The MTL (Merrell Test Lab) is all about radical innovations that enable athletes from the Merrell Trail Team to run even faster and longer. The El Kotts were also involved in the development of the LONG SKY. The LONG SKY 2 is just that little bit better, and now accompanies them on trail running both uphill and downhill. The shoe withstands constantly changing conditions and different surfaces and is quick-drying, breathable and with its FloatPro Foam midsole light and at the same time incredibly comfortable.

RRP: 130 euros


RD stands for Race Day! The Skyfire RD is the lightest, most agile and performance-heavy trail running shoe from Merrell and carries the Swedish twins to best times in competitions or in the sisterly comparison with each other.

RRP: 115 euros