Well done on all who finished and commiseration to those who didn't.
Its a tough race. When I finished in 2011 I said I would never do it again. Every year when it comes up again I get twitchy and part of me wants to do it again but that quickly fades after a few days.
I was crewed when I did it, but all the check points I saw there was a wide variety of food choices and fluids available. It is one of the most friendly races I have ever taken part in you feel like part of a family.
Lake Runner - Get well soon hope you are OK? I know the feeling of being in a hospital post race I spent 2 weeks in one in 2012
I wore road shoes when I did it, ok weather was kind so not really any muddy issues, I used the same pair just changed socks regular.
Lake - It is your choice but I personally would advise against doing all of the route.
I found on the whole the route fairly boring after you have seen x amount of bridges and barges it all becomes very samey...
However I would recommend running what you perceive to be the night section for you, I did this and it did help no end having that prior knowledge. I was lucky though there was a race called Ultra 90 which went from Northhampton to Tring on day one and then back on Day 2.