I started the route with my friend (and excellent trailrunner, Chris Payton) We ran the route counter-clockwise, starting from Homer Wilson Ranch, to avoid being on the Dodson Trail during the hottest part of the day. At the top of Juniper Canyon, Chris was not feeling well and chose to cut the run short. He cut over on the South Rim Trail and dropped down Blue Creek. I dropped down the Pinnacles Trail to the Chisos Basin lodge to get water. I then proceeded up the Laguna Meadows trail and dropped down the Blue Creek trail back to the Homer Wilson Ranch. About .6 miles from the finish my watch died, however I timed it on my phone to be an additional 10 minutes for the last .6 miles. I was very dehydrated and walk/ran that section, hence 10 minutes for a half mile was as fast as I could manage. Additionally, this last section of the Blue Creek Trail is a sandy river bottom, which makes for a very difficult finish. All in all, my time was 7:19 which I believe lowers the previous FKT of 8:04.
I also acknowledge that this data set is not perfect since the last .6 miles are unaccounted for and I am OK with that. This is not a hotly contested FKT route and I believe that a pro ultra runner could probably run this in under 6 hours, though it would be a very challenging run. The combined sections of the Dodson Trail (11.5 miles) and the Blue Creek Trail (5.5 miles) are a nasty combination of loose sand and loose rock, which makes travelling at faster than 10min/mile very difficult. Additionally, the Dodson section is covered in various forms of nasty cactus, leaving your legs quite bloody by the end of the section.
I hope this FKT brings more attention to the route and inspires some one else to lower it ASAP. Future FKT attempters be warned, you will need more water than you think, you will need more solid food than you think, and the trail is much slower and more difficult than you think. Some will attempt comparisons to the Bandera 50k course, but this is apples and oranges. Big bend is at elevations between 2,000-7,000ft, which adds a level of difficulty. Additionally, the cactus along the Dodson is much, much worse than the sotol on the Bandera course. Lastly, the loose sand and rock is far more difficult than the loose rock on Bandera. Best of luck to the next FKT attempt!