Fuelled on a plate of fettuccine carbonara cooked by his mum the night before, Dane Waites ran more than a marathon on Wednesday, August 23, to reach Adelaide Oval from the town’s northern suburbs.
Dane, 43, of Pambula, on NSW’s far south coast, is running from Belmont, Perth, to Pambula Beach, in a bid to raise $500,000 for beyondblue, Autism Spectrum Australia, and Autism CRC, and in memory of his late father Rod, who died of cancer.
Dane’s journey – dubbed Dane’s Dream: Perth to Pambula 2017 – started on June 17 and has seen him run from WA, across the Nullarbor and into South Australia’s capital, which is past the halfway mark. He has run about 2000km so far.
With a police escort led by senior constable Michael Klose, Dane had a big grin on his face and a fresh, dewy look when he arrived at the Adelaide Crows and Port Power’s home ground.
“I saw lovely scenery, lovely countryside and I have run through all the towns across the Nullarbor,” he said.
Dane said he ate “the best” burger at Widgiemooltha, more than 630km east of Perth.
“They made the best chips there,” he said.
Dane said he was born to run.
“Running clears my head and also makes me feel very very free,” he said.
“I never get tired (of running); I just keep going because I just run like Forrest Gump; he never stops running.”
His mother Junee Waites, Tura Beach, said it had been emotional to watch him on this journey.
“It clears his brain, that’s his motivation,” she said.
Alongside Dane on the run is a support team, which changes every three weeks, a motorhome and a support vehicle Junee sits in.
“I’m the water lady and the ‘wipe your face’ (holding a flannel), and also ‘go Dane’ - I’m the cheer squad,” she said.
“If it’s really wet, (I’ll say) ‘what’s a bit of rain, son?’ And he’ll mimic me; (he’ll say) ‘whats a bit of rain, mum?’”
Food is a big part of his program on the run.
“I did cook him fettuccine carbonara last night. Pasta is very good for him,” Junee said.
During each run, Junee will pass her son about half an inch of a protein bar after the first 22km, and then a similar amount every 4km after that.
Dane represented Australia at the Special Olympics in Ireland in 2003, where he won a bronze medal. An interviewer at the time asked him what his next ambition was, to which he replied he wanted to be like Forrest Gump and run around Australia.
Rod suggested Dane break that goal down into smaller stages and start with running across Australia. Rod has since died, but Dane kept training and has been training for 14 years in the lead up to this event.
“His tenacity is quite amazing,” Junee said.
She said this race helps prove to parents of autistic children that they can achieve amazing things.
“We were told on three occasions to place Dane in an institution. Quite clearly we didn’t follow the advice,” Junee said.
“Dane knows he’s got a great life; he’s had to work hard at it, and it doesn’t come easy, but he does believe that every individual has a right to a great life.”
Dane will end up in Tailem Bend, about 90km east-south east of Adelaide, on Saturday.