A DAD-of-two fought through injury and tears as he completed an 82-mile ultramarathon for a charity supporting fatherless boys.

During the first of nine stages of the Essex Way, Patrick Pretorius, 35, got split up from his support partner before taking the wrong trail.

He ended up with an inflamed ligament in his right knee and while his goal was to arrive in Harwich from Epping under 14 hours it took him 21.

Patrick, of Colchester, said: “It seemed like almost everything that could go wrong did. The pain in my knee was excruciating.

"If I stopped for too long my whole leg locked into place and I couldn’t bend it.

“It was so hard from Great Horkesley to Boxted, I couldn’t see beyond it.

“A couple of people said to call it quits but there was no question of doing that.

“I was crying a bit. It was nice my wife Rebecca was with me because she’s brilliant at keeping me focused.

"Once I put that behind me it was mind over matter but it was slow going.”

The challenge was in aid of Lads Need Dads whose mission is to help boys without a father figure through male-led group mentoring, life skills training and ongoing support.

Patrick, who is dad to Riley, five, and Imogen, three, shared the last five miles of the trek with the teenage boys with whom he had “amazing conversations”.

He hobbled to the finish having initially gone past it.

Family, friends, Lads Need Dads’ mentors plus a film crew who documented his journey for three-part documentary for the charity called No Running Away, witnessed his euphoria of finishing at 2am.

He said: “It was absolute relief. I was nauseous and collapsed on the floor.

"The boys saw me at my worst but my best in some ways because they got to see irrespective of things not going your way, just stick it out.

“That lesson was far greater than if I had finished in a great time.”

To help Patrick reach £5,000 for Lads Need Dads click here.