Published in


Going With the Flow

Blood & Sisterhood at the London Marathon

“It’s a radical notion realizing that on a marathon course you don’t have to worry about how you look for others.”

Yo. Have you ever run a marathon on day one of your period?

66% of South-East Asian girls know nothing about menstruation until they start.

Running Mix

Mile 1

I got my flow the morning of the London Marathon and it was extremely painful. It would be my first marathon and I remember already feeling so nervous for it. I had spent a full year enthusiastically training hard, but I had never actually practiced running on my period.

But then I thought…

If there’s one person society can’t eff with, it’s a marathon runner. You can’t tell a marathoner to clean themselves up, or to prioritize the comfort of others. On the marathon course, I could choose whether or not I wanted to participate in this norm of shaming.

I decided to just take some midol, hope I wouldn’t cramp, bleed freely and just run.

A marathon in itself is a centuries old symbolic act. Why not use it as a means to draw light to my sisters who don’t have access to tampons and, despite cramping and pain, hide it away like it doesn’t exist?

Mile 6

And so I started bleeding freely.

More than 40 Million Women in the United States Live on the Brink of Poverty.

A Yearly Supply of Sanitary Pads/or Tampons Averages $70.00 a Year

(They are not covered by Food Stamps.)

Mile 9

(someone came up behind me making a disgusted face to tell me in a subdued voice that I was on my period…I was like…wow, I had NO idea!)

or b) 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.

The two most important men in my life were down for team feminism.

Ana’s mom and sister were both there too, screaming and holding up adorable signs all throughout the race — seeing them made us feel uplifted, like part of something really epic. Our families made our decision to go for this crazy marathon feel right.

Mile 13.1

Everyone was running for their own personal mission. And all of a sudden it felt entirely appropriate that I got my period on marathon day.

The sidelines were packed, and maybe it’s delirium and exhaustion, but every single sign I read was hilarious. Even the hydration signs. I was in love with them.

Mile 18.5

They say you hit the wall at 18.5, so I tried to focus my mind on the next milestone. The first was to get to mile 6, then to mile 9 to see family (my dad and brother made and wore cheer shirts for us!), then the half marathon point at 13.1 over the bridge, then to mile 18.5 to see the breast cancer cheerpoint (we ran for Breast Cancer Care), and then the final stretch to 26.2. I remember thinking,

“My body has my back right so hard right now. The female body is incredible. We haven’t even stopped running once. I want us to finish strong.”

Only 12% of Women in India Use Sanitary Pads or Tampons.

Finish Line

We ran in sisterhood side by side and we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

To this day I analyze a lot of what I do against how I felt during the marathon. I recall the strength to channel positivity, to value working as a team over working individually. I think about goal-setting and executing. I think about pain and fear, and what it feels to overcome those. And I think about feminism, body-positivity, and having the ovaries to practice what you preach.

Kiran Gandhi

Harvard MBA | Former drummer for M.I.A | Madame

Blog | YouTube | Instagram



A civics magazine that brings you stories of hope and change.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Kiran Gandhi

Harvard MBA | Touring Drummer for M.I.A | Former Analyst at Interscope Records