Beating all the odd and coming out tops

The Longest Date winner, Sive Vaaltein.

If you love adventure, romance and your television, you may just recognise Sive Vaaltein.

Sive is one half of the winning couple on SABC3’s The Longest Date – a survivor-style programme that doubled as a dating show. Despite having been on TV, she laughs that she doesn’t own one, so she watches the episodes screened afterwards at her landlord’s home.

In her day-to-day life, the 27-year-old is a social worker at the Christian NGO, Living Hope, in Capri. But she was working at a part-time lecturer at Walter Sisulu University when she applied to be part of the show last year, and that gave her the two weeks she needed to join 15 strangers on set in Mpumalanga facing a variety of physical challenges in pursuit of the
R100 000 prize money.

The 16 contestants, four of whom were from Cape Town, were paired into eight couples.

Sive didn’t get off to a great start when she discovered she’d have to swim just to get to the camp. She had never learnt to swim.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought that’s it, I’m not even going to survive this never mind win,” she laughs.

But her partner, Daniel Senoamadi, 27, wasn’t giving up that easily – he coached her through the first actual water challenge and afterwards taught her how to swim so she was ready for the next day’s event.

It was a good match, she says, because she could return the favour when they had challenges involving heights, which don’t bother her, but he is not keen.

Sive says much of the game, which was filmed daily over the two weeks, was in the mind even though the challenges (such as rock climbing, mountain biking, slack lining etc) also tested physical fitness. And because the show had a romantic element, it also focused on how the couple worked together.

“Winning the physical challenges was one thing, but some of the wins were actually based on how the couples treated one another during the games, so it taught a lot about communication,” she says.

If a certain couple were facing elimination, they would be made – in Sive’s words – to eat something gross. Elephant dung was one thing, a plate full of bull’s testicles another, she says, laughing and making gagging gestures.

Despite facing elimination three times, she was delighted that they never had to eat either of those things.

“I applied because I am all about fitness and challenging myself physically and mentally – and this seemed a great way to do both,” she says.

The show had a twist which participants never saw coming, though, and this tested their newly forged relationships. When Sive and Daniel ultimately won their last challenge against the other couple, they were told they had to compete against one another.

“We were so shocked – he didn’t want to do it, but I said no, we didn’t come this far not to – so we said okay,” she laughs.

But it gets even more interesting here – because it was a heights challenge involving ropes. “It hurt so much,” Sive says about having to pull herself along on this rope challenge.

She got halfway and was in so much pain she started crying. Daniel did the chivalrous thing: he stopped, waited (even though the height in this challenge was a problem for him) and shouted encouragement.

Finally she overcame the pain and pushed through.

Sive says Daniel encouraged her all the way to “fight for the flag”, but he very clearly won the challenge, so he was the overall winner.

And in another show twist, Daniel was asked if he would choose the money or love.

He chose love, but the money didn’t fall away.

“And then he had the option to share his winnings with me. He didn’t have to. But he did,” Sive says.

The two, off screen, live in different provinces, but are still very much together.

Could this show have set up a love match for life? “Well, I pray now that God will bless this union and that it is what he wants. And,” she winks, “there is still the issue of tradition – which means lobola.”