Larri - can't help you with those specific races, but my advice would be that a pair of trail shoes are a good investment if you do any off road running. I have a pair that I've had for years - I don't wear them all that much so they've lasted for ages, but on the occasions I've used them they've made a big difference, especially when it's muddy. It's always handy to have them in the wardrobe for the occasional offroad run.
I really needed a break over the summer, as I'd more or less been in long race training constantly for about 4 years. It ended up being a bit longer than I'd intended, but maybe that was no bad thing, in the end. I'm still struggling a bit with what my longer term running goals are - faster, or longer? I've probably got a sub 3:45 marathon in me, but I think I'm getting diminishing returns from that kind of training, so I'm not sure I'm prepared to put in that kind of effort. So longer is probably easier for me. But I've signed up for Thames Meander on the grounds that it's a nice target, something to aim for, logistically easy and gives me Christmas off.