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Local Travel Story WINNERS Announcement!

We couldn’t have anticipated what a lively debate the travel story entries would instigate. One judge would say “This, by far, is the best piece here” and another judge would disagree, “I was hoping he went off a cliff. Is it too late?”. The pieces jostled up and down the ranks and were so close in the end that we’ve added a third runner-up.

1st Place ($500 US)


The Toilet-ator by Elizabeth Tasker: A Japanese super toilet intimidates the pants off Elizabeth. Elizabeth Tasker is an Astrophysicist from Oxford, UK, working at McMaster University in Canada.

Runners-up (alphabetically ordered) ($150 US)


The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Prague by Kate Baggott: One man’s unopened arms in Canada fling Kate towards many men’s opened arms in Prague. Kate Baggott is a professional writer who lives in Germany when she isn’t in Bulgaria.

Tampon Lampoon by Mary Munro: A tense African border crossing is rescued by tampons in unlikely orifices. Mary Munro is a banking executive at TD in Toronto.

Dirty Shoes by Keph Senett: A breathtaking tale of spelunking deep under undiscovered Croatia with an engaging guide. Keph Senett is a professional writer living in Mexico.

You will be able to read the winning pieces in their entirety in the January special edition of the LOCAL News for Travellers. Also in January we will be launching Monday Escape and will be featuring the top 25 stories and photographs on the Leap Local website. We’re continuing to run the often hilarious and sometimes completely unhelpful travel DO’s & DON’Ts from Leap Local’s facebook fan page. You’re always welcome to join in the banter with the judges, writers and authors, and fellow travellers.

Elizabeth is currently a researcher in Astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where she spends her time building galaxies in a computer. Her main goals in life are to produce a galaxy that looks like a real one and to write the next Harry Potter sensation, possibly in the reverse order.

Originally from the UK, Elizabeth loves to travel and has so far built galaxies in the USA, Australia and Japan before moving to Canada one year ago. Elizabeth has a DPhil from Oxford (that's a PhD – Oxford style) in computational astrophysics and took a 3 year postdoc at the University of Florida. She then moved to Tokyo for four months to do a short-term fellowship financed by the JSPS (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science) where she was based at NAOJ: the National Observatory of Japan. Her parents are unsurprised by the topic of her entry and claim she has had a strong interest in plumbing from an early age, which caused her to hang precariously out of their third story window to listen to the outside pipes.


Elizabeth's blog

Kate Baggott's work ranges from technology journalism to creative nonfiction and from experimental fiction to chick lit. She and her young family divide their time between Germany, Canada and Bulgaria. She did her BA in English and Cinema Studies at University of Toronto, and her MFA in creative writing at University of British Columbia. Links to recently-published pieces can be found at




Mary’s most recent adventures have been on her Vespa, scooting to and from work, where wearing a helmet and heels has its advantages. Mary is an executive in the banking industry (managing enterprise programs - focusing on governance and strategic transformations, at TD in Toronto) having formerly been in management consulting and academia. She has a degree from Carleton University and did her graduate work at University of Toronto where she was also a director of media studies, a lecturer for School of Continuing Studies and adjunct professor for the Faculty of Information Sciences. Throughout her career she has drawn on her travel experiences to provide unique and memorable perspectives for tackling business challenges closer to home. Mary and her husband Rob live in Toronto with their three amazing daughters and their one amazingly gassy bulldog.

  Keph Senett is a Canadian writer whose passions for travel and soccer have led her to play the beautiful game on four continents. Her first "real" job was as a fish scratcher at a packaging plant, a position she held for five weeks before she was promoted to fish reassembler. Not surprisingly, she chose to go back to school and earned a B.A. in Criminology and Women's Studies from Simon Fraser University. After graduation she worked as a licensed private investigator but discovered that she preferred storytelling to surveillance, so in 1999 she hung up her badge. A creative communications professional for over a decade, Keph's now a writer who's been published in several venues including BUST Magazine and LIV. She divides her time between writing about soccer and activism and travel, and working on the book adaptation of her blog about the time she took a soccer ball to South Africa. She's currently living in Mexico, trying to figure out how to qualify for a soccer squad in Asia, Australia or Antarctica.