The Hong Kong Amateur Athletics Association was forced to defend itself after a number of competitors complained that it had left it too late to cancel yesterday's Cross Country Championships at Hok Tau. The event was only called off a 5.30am because of a thunderstorm warning, while typhhon signal number three was also in effect. Some 500 runners were due to take part. Lantau-based distance runner Mark Williams had reached the Discovery Bay ferry pier when he was advised by one of his fellow AVOHK team members that the event had been cancelled. 'I think the decision to cancel should have been made on Saturday night,' said Williams. 'The conditions hadn't changed this morning as signal three was still in effect, and things were more or less the same as they had been 12 hours earlier.' Williams also criticised the association's policy of refunding only 50 per cent of the entry fee. The association, however, said it had done all it could to keep the competitors informed. 'We contacted RTHK and asked them to issue an announcement to say that the race had been cancelled, which they did at 6.30am,' said an official. 'All runners were advised of our hotline number and we had several people manning the phones to field calls,' he said.