PROVO — For anyone who's ever told a relative or friend that fun activities don't exist in Utah County, a newly invented race may alter some of those thoughts.

During a Chamber of Commerce meeting, Matt Bowman, marketing director for Novell, heard distressed small-business owners complain that they couldn't generate demand for the products or services they offered. So Bowman decided to take his love of the TV show "Amazing Race" and his desire to help promote local businesses and came up with an idea — a 24-hour race through Utah County.

The race, initially meant for locals but with plans to expand it, will help inform residents what Utah County has to offer. Market research done by the Utah Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau shows that most visitors to the Utah Valley rely on residents to give them directions to entertainment.

"The research shows ... that less than 15 to 20 percent (of people) would recommend Utah Valley to visiting family and friends," said Joel Racker, executive director of the Utah Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Most people direct friends and family to Salt Lake City or Park City for entertainment, Racker said.

"Matt thought this (the race) would be a great way to get locals involved," he said.

The race will begin on Friday, May 30, and end on Saturday afternoon with a mandatory rest period during the night.

Four-person teams, two men and two women, will meet at a central point, most likely Utah Valley State College, and drive to different businesses throughout the valley that will offer a challenge. When the team has accumulated a yet-undetermined number of points, the members will head back to the central meeting point. The winners will receive a grand prize, which will probably be a vacation, Bowman said.

So far, Bowman has several businesses excited and involved in the race. Businesses from UVSC to McDonald's will participate in the event along with small businesses, some of which are unknown to many Utah County residents. The owner of a sailboat company on Utah Lake has also approached Bowman to participate as one of the host stops, possibly offering a sailboat lesson.

The Marriott Hotel in Provo will also participate with a team of workers who are constantly asked by guests what to do while they're visiting. The race will give them knowledge of what to recommend to those visitors, Bowman said.

Bowman said that many people in Utah County don't venture out into the area's back yard. Last summer, he realized that he and his family fell into that category.

"Our kids have been to the Statue of Liberty, but they'd never hiked the Y," he said.

This race, he hopes, will begin to help remedy that.

Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson said the race will be a positive event for the county.

"It involves public-private partnerships," he said. "(Residents) can see things in the county they otherwise wouldn't see."

The cost to sign up for each four-member team is $500. Those interested can sign up at Teams that sign up by March 15 will receive a $100 discount.

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