Runners braved snow and cold temperatures on Saturday during the Beer Bottle Open in Columbus Grove. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Runners braved snow and cold temperatures on Saturday during the Beer Bottle Open in Columbus Grove. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
COLUMBUS GROVE — Nearly 500 people turned out Saturday for the 35th annual Beer Bottle Open in Columbus Grove. Braving rain and snow, the runners took part in the 4-mile run around Columbus Grove.
Last year's first place winner, Matthew Folk, was the first place winner again this year. His time this year, 20:08 minutes, was the same last year.
Also running in the race was Bill Davis, Fostoria. He said he has been running in the race for nearly 30 years. Davis, who is 82 years old, didn't mind that he came in near the end.
“I was able to run all the way and that is what is important,” Davis said.
As the runners went by Miller's Lunch, the sponsor of the event, they could smell the hobo soup cooking behind the business. The Beer Bottle Open is known for the soup they serve the runners and visitors each year.
Two large kettles hung over an open fire in the back alley behind Miller's Lunch. Volunteers were busy cooking the soup which they said was a “combination of about everything.” 
The event is held annually to raise money for the Columbus Grove Cross Country Team.
“We really appreciate it,” said Terry Schnipke, Columbus Grove Cross Country Coach. He said it takes many volunteers a long time to plan and organize the event. 
Terry Callahan, owner of Miller's Lunch said former coach Jerry Bunn helped start the event. “It just sort of grew from there,” Callahan said. In 2013 over 500 runners took part in the event.
Davis said he heard about the 4-mile run in a runners magazine. “I keep coming coming back because it is always a good time,” Davis said.
Schnipke said the hobo stew is a unique part of the event. “It's in March, so it's cold a lot of times,” Schnipke said. “We give them water and gatorade after the event and I guess the soup is a good way to warm up.”
Schnipke said the funds are used for many things on the team including food for the team when they travel to events, travel expenses, and training expenses.
'We try to do different things to persuade students to go out for cross country,” Schnipke said. He said this includes a trip to Cedar Point and also to a state park.