The way Denis Trafecanty talks about running, you wonder if his baby steps were actually in a 5K.
Take the 15-mile race he recently completed in Tucson, Ariz., during a 10-hour rain that forced most runners to drop out. And that’s not even the most impressive part.
“I usually run a lot of races each year,” he says, matter-of-factly, “and most of them are just training runs for the eventual 100-mile run.”
In Trafecanty’s world, 100-mile runs are almost routine — so much so that he’s completed 15 of them in his 71 years. And still, running a hundred-miler is only a contender for his most impressive feat.
Trafecanty is the CFO for Vitalityweb.com, which sells chiropractic products and whose CEO is also his son. But the ladder he’s climbed spans more than four decades. It began with getting rejected the first time he applied to then Loyola University, then being admitted during his junior year at a community college.
“I used to have three letters,” he says. “One was a rejection from Loyola, one was an acceptance from Loyola, and then the final one was a $500 Arthur Young Alumni Scholarship.”
After graduating, Trafecanty held a litany of jobs, starting with a brutal 10-year stint at an accounting firm.
“There are 2,080 hours in a year of normal work time,” he says. “I think I worked 2,900 chargeable hours.”
But those hours turned him into CFO material — first for an industrial electronics components distributor, then in
entertainment, and then for a PC and disk drive manufacturer, which had revenues of about a half-billion dollars.
Through it all, Trafecanty says his “tough but fair” demeanor brought him success as a business leader.
“If you’re feeling uncomfortable about something, you’ve got to hit it head on,” he says. “If something doesn’t smell totally right, maybe it isn’t right.”
These days, Trafecanty’s interests aren’t limited to business and running. Trafecanty co-founded The Protect Our Communities Foundation, which aims to protect rural communities in Southern California — like his near Julian — from large-scale industrial energy projects. Through persistence, his group forced the relocation of a transmission line planned to cross Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
That’s a tough fight, but a distance runner’s mentality has proven useful.
“When I’m running, endurance is probably my best suit.”