Running the Foothills of Carpinteria: Victor-ously

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Victor Centina is a runner who came to the United States from Mexico City in 1989. He has worked for Gigavac for 11 years where he holds the position of Production Line Supervisor. He has three sons: Xavier, Victor and Alex.

What brought you to the United States?

I really came for the American Dream. I have had 29 years of a wonderful adventure, especially here in Carpinteria. I fell in love with this town on the first day. With the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, it is such a prime location and you have to really appreciate it.

How did you connect with the Franklin Trail?

I’ve been a runner for a long time, since I was 16 years old. In Carpinteria, I would run in town and out on the Bluffs and I always wondered how I could get up in the mountains. I did run other trails in Santa Barbara: Gibralter, Jesusita, Cold Springs, San Ysidro…there are 8 of them. When the Phase I of the Franklin Trail opened, it was a total gift from heaven. Now we have our own trail open and we don’t even need to drive to get to it. Whether you hike or run, it is always enjoyable to go up the mountain and look back down on Carpinteria. Now our trail will soon be expanding to almost 8 miles at the end of Phase III and beyond that the trail system is nearly endless.

In Mexico, we had to drive over two hours to get to a mountain area where we could run in the hills. It was so far away that we could only go once a month. With the Franklin Trail right in our back yard, I go every week.

How else have you been involved with the trail?

Last year I had the opportunity to help the Los Padres Forest Association team on the backside of the Franklin Trail at Alder Creek. We worked for a day clearing and repairing the trail. It was such an honor to get to do that work for the trail. I’ve always been respectful of the mountains. It is such a sacred place, always so quiet and beautiful. The opportunity to get away from civilization on your own two feet is an amazing experience. I want to thank all the people who have been involved in making this trail possible. I will help again when there is an opportunity.

One night last summer, when the moon was at its fullest, I took my son Vic and Kelly, the daughter of Rebecca Griffin, my girlfriend, up the Franklin Trail for a moonlight hike. It was a great experience for all of us to see the stars and the lights of our city on such a beautiful night. In Spanish we say, “El silencio es tan profundo que te haces sentir sordo.” (The silence is so profound it makes me feel that I can’t hear.) That is the way it was that night.

This year on September 17, I will again run the Island View Trail Race put on by Nancy Kaplan and the Trails Council. The funds help support the trail. It is a 4 or 10 mile run up the trail depending on which race you want to do.

Where do you get your motivation to run?

I think it is a gift, just part of being a runner. It is a very inexpensive sport. You just need your running shoes and go. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like running so I walk the trail. The main point is to be in nature and to feel good about your self. If I am lucky I might see a fox, a bald eagle or at night maybe an owl.

Sometimes I run with Rebecca who new to running, yet mostly I run by myself. The longest I have run by myself is 6.7 miles up then back down. It took me about 3 hours. I went when the Phase III wasn’t really ready so the last part I had to walk. Yet to get to the top at about 3000 feet is thrilling and then you have to come back on your own.

Running on the trail is like a mantra for me. I forget the world. When I’m back home, I feel rewarded and accomplished. It just makes me feel good. Whether you run or hike it is a great accomplishment. One day I will run up Romero Canyon, then across the top of the mountains to Carpinteria and down the Franklin Trail. I’m part of the Santa Barbara Trail Runners and some of them have done that run at night.

Do you have any concerns or fears?

There are several signs on the trail advising of the wildlife, so sometimes I wonder what I might see and it gives me a bit of adrenaline. I have seen bear tracks yet no bears or mountain lions. The mileage signs on the trail make it really easy to follow so you will never get lost. You will always find you way back down the mountain.

What would you say to people who have never tried the Franklin Trail?

I encourage all my friends in the Santa Barbara Trail Runners to experience our trail.

I think the more the trail is used the more the wildlife will retreat into the backcountry so there will be less concern about encountering animals.

I invite everyone to enjoy this trail whether with your kids or by yourself to whatever level you can achieve as it is so rewarding. Please take care of the trail by carrying out anything you bring on the trail and be sure to clean up after your dogs. If you are a mountain biker, please use the bells so we can all hear you going up or down the mountain.

Take plenty of water with you and maybe some healthy snacks.

I appreciate the opportunity to express myself about the trail. It is really important that we all remember to enjoy the outdoors.


Author Debbie Murphy is an adventurer, real estate broker and community volunteer.

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