Kiran Gandhi, the touring drummer for M.I.A., faced a precarious dilemma when she arose the morning of her first marathon. She trained for a whole year to run the mythical 26.2 in London but experienced an icky set back the night before the race. Kiran discovered that she’d started her period. As any female marathoner will tell you, racing during that time of month will not only affect performance, but it will make the experience exponentially more uncomfortable.
Kiran wrote of her thought process and admitted to nearly dropping out of the marathon. The thought of wearing a tampon for several friction-filled hours sounded unbearable, so Kiran made a highly unorthodox decision and ran the race anyway. Without a tampon.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Kiran said she ran “free” to raise awareness of women in other countries who don’t have access to tampons (and go to great lengths to hide their periods). She also revealed how her running buddy, Ana, once tucked a spare tampon inside her bra during a race. Ana was left with a scar where the tampon rubbed, so Kiran decided she didn’t want to, uh, chafe elsewhere. So she let blood flow down her legs during the entire course:
“The actual marathon day, I remember being in pain. It’s that plus the anxiety butterflies in my stomach before running. I took Midol, which helped. I was trying to be in the moment, and Ana [was] so hyped. Those are the things that allowed the pain to subside and for me to just run. And feel f*cking empowered to run bleeding on a marathon course. Once I started bleeding, I felt kind of like, Yeah! F*ck you! I felt very empowered by that. I did.”
Well, what it takes to feel “empowered” will differ from woman to woman. Most people would never dream of “bleeding” all over a 26.2 mile course, but it’s not like Kiran gushed onto her fellow runners. But she must have received some odd looks and comments from those spectators holding wacky signs. Here are some relatively mild photos of Kiran at the race. If you dare to see the super-mega period shots, they’re right here.