They’ve been married only since Sept. 26, but already, Janelle Pierce and Nicholas Debbins have encountered lots of obstacles in their path. Luckily, they conquered them.
It all happened on their honeymoon. They went to Aruba – but first, they detoured to West Virginia to run the Tough Mudder race, in shirts that said “Just Married.”
“I had ‘Just.’ He had ‘Married,’ ” the bride said. Their race numbers, too, had meaning. “I was 9. He was 26. For Sept. 26,” she laughed. “And mine said ‘Wifey’ and his said ‘Hubby.’ ”
Tough Mudder races, which are held all over the world, involve more than simply pounding the pavement.
“We had to crawl under barbed wire in a mud pit,” Janelle explained. “We had to do monkey bars that went up at an angle and back down at angle, with water underneath. We had to jump into a huge ice bath and go underwater under a wall, then come back up,” she continued. “But they do it in the middle of the race, so when you get out, you’re not completely frozen, you’re refreshed.”
Another challenge involved running up and down a big hill 10 times. And the last obstacle was a shocker.
“It’s called electroshock therapy,” Janelle confided. “You run through a huge mud pit with hay bales, and there are strings with shockers at the end, that kind of shock you.”
How did the groom deal with all of this?
“He loved it,” the bride said, confidently. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s not just a race. It’s very community oriented. You have to help your fellow runners. You can’t get through certain obstacles with just two people. It’s not about time. It’s about teamwork.”
Sounds a little like marriage.
Janelle met Nick two years ago, on a blind date arranged through mutual friends.
“We went to Spot Coffee. I brought my pepper spray,” she laughed. “I had called my sister, and said, ‘OK, in an hour you’re going to call me, in case I need to get out of this.’ ” She didn’t need to. “It was 7:30, and next thing I know I’m looking at my watch and it’s one in the morning.”
By that time, she knew she really liked him.
“He was really tall, he had this genuine smile, and when he started talking, I realized, he’s so down to earth. He’s very easygoing, very easy to talk to,” she said. “And the more he talked, I could tell he’s very family-based, the way I am.”
When Thanksgiving rolled around, they celebrated family by running another race.
“My mom and I do the Turkey Trot every year, and we always wear crazy costumes,” Janelle said. “I made him wear an elf hat and crazy fluffy socks. I told him, ‘Now that you’re married to me, I guess you can come with us.’ ”
Pierce and Debbins were married at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church, Williamsville. Guests gathered for a reception at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, Buffalo. Andy Broad of Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church heard the couple’s vows. The bride’s parents are Robert J. and Amy E. Pierce of North Tonawanda. The bridegroom’s parents are Thomas and Lisa Debbins of Lancaster. The bride is a graduate of Newfane High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics from Indiana Wesleyan University. The bride is a digital marketing coordinator at Community Papers of WNY. The groom, a graduate of Lancaster High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from SUNY Buffalo State and also earned a master’s degree of business administration from Medaille College. He is a project manager at Rolite Manufacturing. The couple will make their home in Depew.
– Mary Kunz Goldman