May 27, 2013 Updated: May 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm
BOULDER - Shortly after the awards ceremony put a glossy finish on another Bolder Boulder, I saw a woman pass out.
Three officers from Boulder Police converged on the spot. They arrived faster than Jimmy John's - almost in time to catch her fall.
Within seconds, another half-dozen uniformed men cleared a path to the medical area.
Aside from the spectacular sunshine that turned the CU campus into a postcard, this was the first thing I noticed Monday at the 34th edition of Colorado's great race:
Police. And more police. And more police.
Like the goofy costumes that make this a must-see event, security was thicker than a Pantera concert at Red Rocks.
This was life in the first major race A.B.: After Boston.
"From the hour we heard about (the bombings), our team was thinking, talking, discussing, planning and involving law enforcement and our security partners in conversations," said Cliff Bosley, the Bolder Boulder race director.
Law enforcement was everywhere. It was here to help the fainting woman. (She was OK, by the way.) It was here to show a forgetful writer where to find his car.
It was here because Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev put it here.
The cowards who killed three people and injured 282 more with explosives at the Boston Marathon changed how major races, like our very own Bolder Boulder, are conducted.
In a post-race phone call, Boulder Police commander Carey Weinheimer told Bosley the race ended with no security issues, Bosley said. Additional measures this year included more officers and an expanded security perimeter around Folsom Field.
"It's kind of like an airport," Bosley said. "Once you get past the security, you kind of have assurances that people who are in the area have been checked."
If it wasn't before, public safety was now priority Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
"It could happen in any situation," said Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, an elite runner who competed in the Boston Marathon on April 15 and in Boulder on Monday.
"It could happen here at a football game. It could happen at any event. Because it happened within the running community, it hit home."
Rothstein had finished the Boston Marathon when two explosions turned a brilliant day into a tragic one. She was right across Boylston Street in a third-floor hotel room.
"When we heard the first bomb, my husband thought a pipe broke," Rothstein-Bruce said. "When the second one went off, I thought, 'I have a bad feeling.'"
The terror of Boston also lies in the what-ifs.
What if Rothstein-Bruce had finished the race two hours later than she did?
What if her husband, Ben, had gone ahead with his plan to return to the finish line and watch the rest of the race?
"He literally would have been checking out the finish at that very moment the bombs went off," said Rothstein-Bruce, who finished 15th in the women's professional race Monday.
What if it happened at the Bolder Boulder?
"This is our sport, and we don't want people hijacking it," Bosley said.
The number of registered runners was down, from 51,681 in 2012 to 48,741 Monday. Organizers said there was a certain Boston effect on the turnout, which still was massive.
Inside Folsom Field, I saw a proud father film his tiny daughter cross the finish line of her first Bolder Boulder. Deena Kaston, the first American woman to finish the professional 10k, found a clever way to cool off from the 80-degree heat.
"I ran through sprinklers (in someone's front yard) on the course," she said.
A football stadium filled with runners raised its hoarse voice during a ceremony to honor Vietnam veterans on Memorial Day.
I saw sunburns.
I saw happiness.
I saw no fear.
"I don't think about it when I'm running. Not one bit," Rothstein-Bruce said. "What good would that do? To scare us?
"If that happens, they won. They didn't win."
The running world changed after Boston.
The running world runs on after Boston.