A STAY-at-home dad will push himself to his limits and beyond to help lads without dads.

Patrick Pretorius, 35, is attempting to run the entire 82 mile stretch of the Essex Way despite having never run further than 14 miles in training.

At different points he will be joined by friends and family for moral support - the dad-of-two admits he could not do it alone - and the boys associated with Lads Need Dads in Clacton.

The not-for-profit organisation, which was founded by mum Sonia Shaljean, works to limit the impact of absent, or limited access to, a male role model by equipping boys with life skills and adult mentors.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Founder - Sonia Shaljean

He said: “At least a million people don’t have a father figure at home and I believe 76 per cent of men in prison come from a fatherless home - that’s scary.

“It’s a major concern in our society and especially being a stay-at-home dad, I see how prevalent it is.

“I decided to run because there’s an amazing parallel between running and parenting. As a parent you have to be this constant person in a child’s life, endure the pain, and ride the highs and lows.

“It’s not the easy times which matter.”

Mr Pretorius, of Colchester, has two children Riley, five, and Imogen, three.

Last year, he took part in the TV show Ninja Warrior, and did 38.5 miles of the Essex Way which he said was “unexplored territory” being better suited to explosive sports.

By his own admission, his body fell apart with a stress fracture to his ankle and tendonitis in his knee. He walked for the last ten miles, finishing it in 8.5 hours.

He said: “An ultramarathon isn’t about fitness, it’s about pain management because your body starts to fall apart beyond marathon distance.

“I’ve been training for six months and it’s going well but I’m not sure how my body will respond.

“Marathon runners talk about hitting that wall, but I’m doing three marathons and then some so it won’t just be one wall.”

No Running Away, Vidoo Commercial Film

Since training Mr Pretorius has met with thought leaders at the Centre for Social Justice in London as part of a three-part documentary for Lads Need Dads.

A film crew will follow his journey for No Running Away which will also give an insight into how Sonia’s work regionally fits into the national picture.

Despite being nervous, Mr Pretorius hopes his vulnerability will set an example.

He said: “No-one wants to be exposed or have weak moments but it’s these moments which will inspire people.

“The last thing I was is for anyone to think I’m perfect because I struggle as a dad and I’m open about it. I need support too.

“Plus I can’t let the boys down so there’s no option of stopping. If I can’t run, I’ll crawl or walk.”

Patrick is running on June 3. To help him reach £5,000 click here.