Kiran Gandhi trained for a whole year to get ready for the London Marathon. When race day finally arrived, nothing was going to stand between her and the finish line - especially not her period.
In a brilliant essay the 26-year-old, from New York, writes that she thought through all the options the night before:
Running 26.2 miles with a wad of cotton material wedged between my legs just seemed so absurd. Plus they say chafing is a real thing.
But in the end the novice marathon-runner realised that if she was badass enough to run the distance, she was badass enough not to care what people thought of her appearance. And while she was at it, she could draw attention to the fact that women all over the world don't have access to basic sanitary products.
Kiran took a few pain killers, and decided to just let nature do its thing.
As I ran, I thought to myself about how women and men have both been effectively socialised to pretend periods don’t exist... Because it is all kept quiet, women are socialised not to complain or talk about their own bodily functions, since no one can see it happening. And if you can’t see it, it’s probably 'not a big deal.'
During the race someone came up behind her with a "disgusted face" to let her know she had her period and Kiran says she spent the whole time wondering whether she needed to calm down or whether she was a "liberated boss madame who loved her own body, was running an effing marathon and was not in the mood for being oppressed that day".
But when she saw her dad and brother cheering from the sidelines and realised they couldn't care less about her period, she was spurred on to victory.
Together with two close friends, Kiran made good time and the three crossed the finish line together, holding hands.
Kiran said the experience taught her a lot about pain and fear, and how to overcome them. But ultimately when she remembers the race she thinks of:
Feminism, body-positivity, and having the ovaries to practice what you preach.