NEW PORT RICHEY — A 78-year-old New Port Richey resident has achieved another amazing accomplishment this year by earning the title of not one, but two Ironman world championships in his age division for full- and half-distances.

Jerry Magliulo recently took the top prize in the 75-79 age group in the 70.3 Ironman world championship on Sept. 18 in St. George, Utah.

In 2019 in Hawaii, he also captured the full 140.6-mile Ironman title, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

Next year, he will defend his titles by participating in triathlons in Utah and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

What started as a passion for running soon spiraled into a desire to compete annually after a member of Magliulo’s church mentioned they were participating in the competition. It piqued his interested and Magliulo has now been competing for 28 years.

“I was a minister then and newspapers would write articles about me almost monthly, ‘The muscular minister wins again,’” Magliulo said, laughing. “It’s very much a part of my identity now.”

In early October, Magliulo had to bury his older brother and the memories of his training came back as he shared his accomplishments. Born in Italy, Magliulo said he and his brother had to forage for food after World War II. It was his duty to distract the dogs while his brother went to look for food around farms.

“I asked my brother, ‘What happens if they catch me?’ and he said, ‘Don’t let them catch you.’ I think about that all the time in the competition,” Magliulo said.

Swimming isn’t his strongest suit, and he does OK at running, but bicycling — Magliulo said no one can catch up to him when he’s on a bike. In fact, Magliulo said he’s usually 10-15 minutes ahead of the racers when he finishes in first place.

Every week, you can find Magliulo practicing. He spends time cycling 220 to 270 miles, running 30 miles, and swimming five to seven miles per week.

His wife supports his competitions by letting him know how close competitors are. It usually helps give a boost to his momentum.

“This past year was tough,” Magliulo said. “Australians and Europeans are the strongest competitors.”

Magliulo tries to compete every month. He just finished a race in Wilmington, North Carolina. For someone who thought about retiring five years ago, Magliulo credits the Kennedy Law Racing team he joined that motivated him to keep going for it. Everybody is part of the victory, he said.