Ben Schragger ’19 co-founding Duæl Track to provide new spin on professional track & field

Barry Kahn & Ben Schragger '19

By Clark Haptonstall

Barry Kahn & Ben Schragger '19
Barry Kahn & Ben Schragger '19

Ben Schragger ’19 has teamed up with Barry Kahn to launch Duæl Track, a new type of running competition featuring professional track athletes competing 1-on-1 in made-for-TV format meant to draw audiences with tournament-style competitions and engaging storylines.

The first competition, the Duæl 100, will take place in Fall 2024 and include 20 world-class sprinters: 10 each in both the men’s and women’s division. Unlike traditional track meets which are comprised of many events with multiple athletes per race, each Duæl event will feature only a single discipline, and athletes will compete head-to-head with the winner of each matchup advancing through the bracket, similar to what fans would see during March Madness or the World Cup’s knockout rounds. The first competition will showcase the 100m. Future events will increase the field size up to 40 runners and will feature either the 100m or the mile, the sport’s two marquee events.

“I'm really excited for the opportunity to combine my passions for empowering athletes, building sports businesses, and developing audiences through Duæl,” Schragger said. “Plus, there couldn't be a better time to launch coming off the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer, a Netflix series profiling the world's fastest human, the big personalities in the men's and women's 100m, and the Olympics coming to Los Angeles in 2028.”

The Founder and CEO of Duæl Track is Barry Kahn, a well-known figure in the professional sports industry. Kahn, who was a member of the track & field team at Cornell University and EVP at Endeavor, was the Founder and CEO of Qcue, the software company that created the world’s first dynamic pricing engine for live entertainment events, forever changing the way sports and entertainment tickets are priced. Kahn has ties to Rice as well, as his pitch for Qcue won the Rice University Business Plan Competition in 2008, a year after Kahn completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Texas.

“At Duæl, we’re not just building a new version of track and field, we’re building a new sport tailored for today’s media ecosystem. While my background is in the live experience, Ben has amazing experience building digital audiences from social media and podcasts to live streaming sports,” Kahn said. “That expertise coupled with the energy that Ben brings to this project is what is going to allow Duæl to reimagine track and field while laying out a new model for the rest of the sports industry.”

Duael Track Logo

Their common ties to Rice were part of what helped this partnership become a reality. While both were living in Austin, TX and deeply rooted in the sports and live entertainment space, Schragger and Kahn did not know each other and were initially introduced by Tom Stallings, a Professor in Rice’s Department of Sport Management, who foresaw a synergy between the two.

Despite graduating from Rice less than 5 years ago, Schragger, who majored in Sport Management and minored in Business, has been involved in several different projects in the sport industry. Directly out of university, he created and led CBS Sports’ podcast division (2019-22), generating double-digit revenue and follower growth for the network after they absorbed the fantasy football business that he began building as a sophomore in high school. This led to Schragger being recognized by Front Office Sports’ “Rising 25” as one of the top 25 leaders in the sports industry under the age of 25 in 2022. Schragger was then Director of Customer Experience at WIN Reality where he helped launch a premium subscription coaching product (2022-23).

As a student at Rice, Schragger was a pitcher on the Owls’ baseball team. He was also the 2019 recipient of the Lindsay Roemmich Award which recognizes the Sport Management graduate who best modeled academic excellence and external experience.

Clark Haptonstall Ph.D. is a Professor in the Practice as well as Chair of the Department of Sport Management at Rice University.