When Kiran Gandhi realized the first day of her period coincided with her first marathon, she almost didn’t run. The 26-year-old had trained for a year to complete the London Marathon, but had never run on the first or second day of her period due to intense pain. However with the encouragement of her two training partners, she made it to the starting line—without a tampon.
Officially Gandhi was completing 26.2 miles in London for the charity Breast Cancer Care, which she and her friends raised more than $6,000 to support. Because of the cause, she wanted to make it through the marathon.
However her decision to run without a tampon was one made right on race day. By mile 9, she had bled through her tights. Instead of letting it bother her, she used her run as an attempt to remove the stigma that surrounds women and their periods. She was tired of pretending that the pain and discomfort associated with her cycle didn’t exist on a monthly basis.
“I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist,” Gandhi wrote on her blog.
Despite some pain and discomfort, the whole marathon experience was one of empowerment for Ganhdi. She finished in 4:49:11. She is also heartened by the response to sharing her story.
“Men and women alike, they get it,” Gandhi told Cosmopolitan. “That is my favorite part about this whole thing, that people are remembering that women have this thing that they have to deal with.”