Boulder Photographer Captures the Essence of Trail Running

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This article was originally published in March of 2005.

Have you seen a great image of someone running through an iconic Boulder landscape, and thinking to yourself, “I want to run there!” Chances are that image came from the lens of Phil Mislinski.

Beth Darnall running on the Green Mountain West Ridge Trail

Beth Darnall running on the Green Mountain West Ridge Trail – Photo courtesy of Phil Mislinski

Mislinski is published in nearly every running magazine on the stands — Runners World, Running Times, Marathon and Beyond, Outside, and Sports Illustrated.  And if you’ve perused any of them, you know he has a knack for capturing the spirit of trail running.

“Phil Mislinski is the quintessential trail running photographer,” says Brian Metzler, founding editor of Trail Runner magazine and author of Running Colorado’s Front Range.

“He’s one of the best in the business, not only in Boulder but throughout the entire country. And the reason for that is because he’s a hard-core trail runner himself. He’s run virtually every trail in Boulder and the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, so he knows what to look for in a picturesque trail and what runners will look like running on those trails. ”

For Mislinski, photography and running have always gone hand in hand, dating back to high school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I can’t remember which one actually came first. I enjoyed taking photos of my friends doing sports.”  Phil, a nine-year resident of Boulder, arrived in this foothills town for graduate school.  He began his career as an engineer with Ball Aerospace but turned to photography for a change of pace and a compliment to his girlfriend’s (now wife’s) writing assignments.

When asked what is it about Boulder that is so appealing to outdoor enthusiasts he replied, “Boulder County has some of the best trails and runners around.”  Phil highlights both of those in Trail Runner’s Guide to Colorado, a book he co-wrote with long-time friend Scott Boulbol, after getting lost on a trail while out for a run.


“I like to shoot any sport that I do. I have two daughters, so shooting women in sports is exciting for both me and them.” Women like Stephanie Ehret – an ultra-runner who lives in Boulder, who recently won the overall title at the Javelina Jundred 100 mile trail run in Arizona.

Mislinski has run with men and women, crewed and shot photos in some of these grueling races and believes that women overall are usually tougher. Although, beware of some of the faster trail runners such as Matt Carpenter, who are starting to run the longer distance races, and might just claim back a few titles.

After 10 years shooting part time, Phil has now moved to Hawaii to take on photography full time. You will still find him running the trails of Hawaii along with shooting friends in the sports they love.

Note: Phil’s photo is on the cover of Brian Metzler’s Running Colorado’s Front Range.
You can also see his work at

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