AGE is just a number. The only digits that matter for these Scottish athletes is beating their personal best times out on the track and road.

An exhibition, Growing Old Competitively, is on show at the Park Gallery in Callendar House, Falkirk, until August. It features athletes from their late-50s to mid-90s, hailing from Scotland and around the world, who are still competing, winning medals and breaking records.

The collection was the brainchild of photographer Alex Rotas who hopes it will challenge common misconceptions about what growing older means and help to encourage fresh thinking on how older people can stay fit, healthy, engaged and happy.

"I first became interested in photographing older competitive sports people when I realised that as a swimmer, tennis player and runner I was becoming one myself," says Rotas. "Yet, when I studied how over-60s are portrayed in popular culture, I realised it was usually as infirm, immobile, spent and sad.

"I set out to capture positive images of active elders enjoying sport and soon discovered they are not a rare and exotic species; they are present in every locality and with a select few achieving times or distances that compare very respectably with those of much younger athletes."

Each athlete has been captured in action at their chosen event whether that be sprints, hurdles, long and high jump, pole vault or distance events.

"Not everyone can or wants to be an athlete," adds Rotas. "But I hope my images remind us all of what's possible as we age and force society as a whole to think again about our attitudes towards ageing.

"The 'masters' sportsmen and women in my photographs have all the lines and wrinkles that come with years, but they show, too, that it is possible to look and feel wonderful without pretending to be younger than you are."

Hugh McGinlay, 92, retired recreation officer, from Falkirk

I was 56 when I first ran the Glasgow Marathon in 1982. I had been playing squash and had an injury and shouldn't have run, but I did it anyway. I completed it in four hours and five minutes. I thought: 'I did that with a bad leg. I'll try it again.' The next one I did in three-and-a-half hours.

And I just kept going. Why running? It's simple. I just put my gutties on, go out the door and run wherever I want to. I have done marathons, half marathons and 10k races.

I had never run on the track in my life, but I decided to give it a go when the British Championships were held in Edinburgh [in 1984]. I won a gold in 1500m and silver in the 5000m.

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I have always been competitive. If I go out the door, I have a stopwatch in my hand. I like setting myself different challenges. Running the long, straight canal in Falkirk where I live is boring; I prefer a course with hills and bends.

I'm a full-time carer for my wife Jean, but I go running any chance I get. She has always supported me, and I couldn't have run without her. When I was misdiagnosed with epilepsy for three years she drove me all over the country so that I could compete.

Sport is my life. The volunteers – the marshals, timekeepers, people handing out drinks – are all wonderful. I hope to be competing at the FPSG Scottish National Masters Track and Field Championships in Grangemouth next weekend in the 90+ age group over 400m, 800m and 1500m.

Phyllis Hands, 62, retired solicitor, from Lanark

I took up running at primary school when I was 10. I didn't get on that well with the teacher and it was a good excuse to get out of class for a bit. I used to run in my bare feet, then deliberately take my time washing them afterwards, so I could put off going back inside.

I have continued to run throughout my life. My biggest thrill was picking up first place in the over-40 age category on my 40th birthday in the Great Caledonian 10k in Edinburgh on October 1, 1995.

I did track running at school and university before moving to marathons in the 1980s and then came back to the track when the junior athletes at my club, Motherwell Athletics Club, needed points in their league from masters athletes.

My husband Benjamin is a great one for studying the odds, so he worked out we might do quite well on the track in our age categories in the national competitions at Scottish and British level. I started entering them at the grand old age of 57.

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Benjamin, who is now 57 himself, is my inspiration because he is so focused and trains hard, whereas I like to just enjoy everything and not put myself under too much pressure.

On race days, I tend to forget what time it is and will go get a cup of coffee. Benjamin then has to remind me: 'You're running in an hour!' It is nice having each other's company when we train and compete.

At the European Masters Athletics Championships Indoor in Madrid earlier this year, I took the bronze medal over 3000m in the W60 category (women aged 60-64). I won team gold in the cross-country with two women from England – we were part of a Great Britain team.

Winning medals is fantastic but to be still running 52 years after I first ran over 880 yards on a grass track is, to me, a big enough achievement.

Fiona Matheson, 57, NHS admin worker, from Falkirk

Running is about well-being for me. It gives me confidence and I enjoy it. I get to meet lots of interesting people and to visit places I don't think I would have otherwise.

I started running 16 years ago at the age of 41. I got involved through the Jog Scotland network. I began by walking for 30 seconds, jogging for 30 seconds and built up from there over 10 weeks. People often think: 'Oh, I can't run' but before you know it, you are doing a mile – then two miles.

One of the great things is that it doesn't cost much to get started. You can run along the canal or in parks. It requires very little equipment: when I first began running I looked out an old pair of trainers and the paint-splattered jogging trousers I used for decorating.

There are so many health benefits from running such as lowering your risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart attack. It can help you lose weight. Running also relieves stress: you can go out there and switch off from everything.

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Often people are put off joining a club because they think it is only for elite runners, but they are open to everyone. The members all encourage each other. Once you start running, you are a runner – it doesn't matter if you are fast or slow.

My husband Grant started running before I did to lose weight – which he successfully did – and he has given me a lot of good advice over the years.

I set myself the goal to do my first 10k around Grangemouth in under an hour. I did it in 59 minutes and was delighted – you would have thought I'd won the race. Next, I challenged myself to a 10k under 40 minutes, which was a big jump, but I was determined to do it. I ran the Stirling 10k in 39 minutes.

I hold eight track world records and "road best" times across the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups. I also hold 16 British age records in road and track. I don't look at what other people are doing because you can't run their times – you can only run what is physically possible for your own body.

Jim Smith, 74, retired accountant, from Motherwell

I began running five years ago when I was 68. Before then, I hadn't run since I left school at 18. It all came about because my granddaughter Amy Carr, who has cerebral palsy, was told by a teacher at school that she was a fast runner and should try to join a club.

Amy, who was then 13, lived in Teesside and we were visiting her dad in Manchester when she told me that story. Late on the Saturday evening we emailed British Athletics and received an almost immediate response suggesting she find a local club which trains disabled athletes.

That became our plan. Amy found a club near her in Middlesbrough and around the same time I joined Motherwell Athletics Club which just happened to have a sprint section. Amy and I both do sprints and long jump, and I also do triple jump.

I have performed pretty well with several Scottish and British Championship wins, but Amy has far surpassed me. She won an incredible hat-trick of medals at the 2017 IPC World Junior Championships, taking gold in both the long jump and the 200m, as well as bronze in the 100m.

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Earlier this year Amy, now 19, competed for Team Scotland at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the T37 long jump, finishing seventh. I'm so proud of all her achievements. Amy is a huge inspiration and we have great fun as we "compete" with each other on our times and distances.

Any time I get a new PB [personal best] I'll send her a cheeky message and vice versa. Amy has to catch up with my times, so I'm still winning – slightly.

I compete in the M70 category (men aged 70-74) and have won titles at the Scottish Championships for all four of my events over the past three years. I also have wins at the three British Championships including the indoor long jump this year.

I was ninth in Europe for the 60m and 200m in March. Two years ago, I won a European gold medal in the 4x200m relay in Ancona and got a silver in the same event in Madrid this year. My PBs are steadily coming down. Even though I'm getting older, every year I still seem to be improving.

I set myself new goals and challenges each season. This year it was to run 100m under 14 seconds, 200m in under 30 seconds, and to jump over four metres and eight metres in the long jump and triple jump respectively – all of which I have achieved.

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Growing Old Competitively is at the Park Gallery in Callendar House, Falkirk, until August 19. Visit and

The FPSG Scottish National Masters Track and Field Championships take place at Grangemouth on July 14. Visit